Inspired by Michaeleen Doucleff’s book, Hunt, Gather, Parent, and the show Old Enough on Netflix, I decided to teach my 5-year-old how to scoot to grandma’s house independently.
I would never do this as a Parent in SF
My wife and I lived in San Francisco for 13 years, 5 of them with kids. I’ve dreamed about teaching my kids autonomy by letting them walk to school more independently, but it never felt safe because of the homelessness and general crime in SF.
Our school was only a 10-minute walk from our home. I truly believe that if she had to, our 5 year old could have made the walk.
To practice, I would bike the girls to school, park at the street corner, and encourage them to walk to the school gates by themselves. It was slow going.
At first they didn’t want to. After a few days they walked a few steps. Then a week later they made it halfway. All the while, I made sure to let them know, “Practice makes better. You’ll make it further little-by-little each day. Don’t feel rushed. Take your time and you’ll get there.
Important: Kids mature at different paces. It’s more productive to encourage and let them know that they’ll do it when they’re ready as opposed to forcing kids to do something. In this example, if I had forced them to walk to the gate, they would have resisted harder and probably developed a fear of walking independently.
For many reason, my kids never made it by themselves to the gate.
But we soon moved to the suburbs and my chance to teach autonomy through independent walking was reborn.
A parent’s worst fear: abduction
In Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book How to Raise an Adult, the opening pages describe a scene that is a parent’s worst nightmare. A mother left her child alone in the mall in order to do some shopping. The child was abducted and killed.
Continue reading GRACE Parenting: I let my daughter scoot to grandma’s house all alone 😱